Keyboard-shortcut-friendly desktop environment?

e-flat minor 853

New Member
Hello, I installed Debian 10 with the Cinnamon desktop environment recently after using both OS/2 and versions of Windows up to 8.1 for a long time. I don't like to use a mouse, and I navigated almost entirely with the keyboard. Both OS/2 and Windows have keyboard shortcuts for almost all user interface actions, with OS/2 of course being far better at this than Windows. Now, in Cinnamon, I am finding I can't even navigate from one part of a directory window to another with the keyboard; I must use a mouse. The included text editor Gedit has essentially no keyboard shortcuts.

Are there any desktop environments with full keyboard control? How about text editors?



Well-Known Member
There are other people who will know much more about this topic then myself./....

However, I came across this app through the week, and it has to do with remapping keyboard etc...

It may be helpful to you at some stage.

I am also going to mention a few members names here who may be able to help further: They will be alerted to this post.

@Lord Boltar


Well-Known Member
Not all shortcuts work with all desktops, the attached article list 100 of the most common Linux short cuts


e-flat minor 853

New Member
100 Keyboard Shortcuts....
Most desktops will have place where you can configure keyboard-shortcuts....
...Tiling Window manager

Thank you; those cover moving around on the desktop, with nothing about moving around various sections inside program windows.

The Cinnamon file manager is Nemo. The default is to have a top menu, a narrow left pane tree listing of various directories and places, and a large right pane with a listing of the current directory. I can't find a way to move from menu to pane to pane, without using the mouse. Under other OSs one would use the Tab to cycle between panes in a window. In some directory windows I can use the arrow keys to move around, but this is not constant among views.

In the text editors I used before I could use At+F then A to Save As. In Gedit the only way I can see to Save As is to use the mouse to click on the menu bars. There is no keyboard shortcut I can find to get to the menu bars without the mouse.

I know IBM and Microsoft agreed on a Common User Interface for mouse and keyboard control of windows within their operating systems, and also programs operating inside those windows. Do Linux graphical managers have a way to control individual application windows with just a keyboard?


Staff member
Gold Supporter


Well-Known Member
Are there any desktop environments with full keyboard control?
KDE is what I use. I'm also a keyboard user, and KDE has me covered; you can set a hotkey for pretty much anything you can think of; minimize/maximize windows, launch apps, switch between views within the same app, search from desktop(Kunner); just click on the desktop(or hit Alt + space) and a search bar will pop up, type in your query and wait for the results, it searches recursively on your entire system and any matched will be listed, and there's so much more you can do, seriously, anything you can think of can be set to be started/launched/enabled/close/finished with a hotkey, anything. I've used Gnome, and to be honest, you still need to use the mouse; you can't navigate the app grill with the arrow keys, at least this is the case in Gnome 40. I've used/tried several desktops and window managers, and IMHO KDE is the best one, specially for keyboard users. And it isn't that heavy these days, in my system it uses around 400 MiB on idle. :D
Check it out

By the way, since you're a fellow keyboard user, you might want to install vimium extension in your web browser, it's available for Chrome/Chromium, Firefox and I believe for others as well. :)


Well-Known Member
By hitting Ctrl + Alt + I (KDE 5.22) you can enable a pop up menu in every KDE app, similar to what you can do in some text editors like sublime, VSCode/Codium and others. You can type to quickly find a setting or perform and action too. Which I find very handy.




Well-Known Member
AFAIK the keybinds in the editor are still the same. So those binds should just work.

If they aren’t, then perhaps those binds are being caught/consumed by the desktop environment, rather than the application.
That may be why some of the Alt keybinds aren’t working.

KDE has insanely fine-grained control of keybinds for KDE/QT based applications at least. So that might be one way of doing it.

Another might be to use a tiling window manager. But that won't really do much to change default keys used in applications. That really just allows you to control everything else with the keyboard.

Having said that - in dwm (tiling wm) the default mod-key for interacting with the desktop is the alt-key (modkey 1). But some of the keybinds used for controlling the desktop conflict with default keys used in some applications. When pressed, the WM consumes them before they get to the application.

So I modified my copy of dwm to use the windows key (modkey 4).So now the windows key is used for keybinds that interact with dwm, allowing alt-based keybinds to be consumed by applications, as normal!

Other tiling wm’s like i3, awesome, wmii and XMonad can be configured the same way!
So that might be one way around the problem.

Another random thought - F10 is another common key used to access the main menu in GUI applications.
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